The agency only has early data on the leading causes of death for last year and researchers are still combing through those numbers, but provisional data suggest that Covid-19 may have caused enough deaths in 2020 to rank third, CDC statisticians told CNN in an email.
“We still only have provisional data through December 26. We should be getting more data in very soon,” CDC statisticians said. “To that point we estimate there were between 316,252 and 431,792 excess deaths in 2020. Our provisional death certificate data through that point show over 301,000 deaths involving COVID-19, which would likely place it 3rd among leading causes of death.”
They added that “there is enough distance” between the numbers of death caused by cancer, the second leading cause in 2019, and those caused by accidents or unintentional injuries, the fourth leading cause in 2019, “to be comfortable saying” that Covid-19 was the third leading cause for 2020.
In 2019, before the coronavirus emerged, the 10 leading causes of death in the United States were:
- Heart disease (659,041)
- Cancer (599,601)
- Unintentional injuries (173,040)
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases (156,979)
- Stroke (150,005)
- Alzheimer’s disease (121,499)
- Diabetes (87,647)
- Nephritis (51,565)
- Flu and pneumonia (49,783)
- Suicide (47,511)
As of Tuesday morning, more than 353,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States so far, according to Johns Hopkins University’s count.